US man jailed for 40 years for raping children at Kenyan orphanage

Tuesday March 8 2016

Upendo Children’s Home in Juja. Missionary Matthew Durham was jailed for defiling children at the institution.

Upendo Children’s Home in Juja. Missionary Matthew Durham was jailed for defiling children at the institution. 

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A United States judge on Monday handed down a 40-year sentence to a former Christian missionary previously found guilty of raping children at a Kenyan orphanage.

“These were heinous crimes committed on the most vulnerable victims,” Judge David Russell declared in imposing the sentence.

“He was their worst nightmare come true," the judge added in regard to Matthew Lane Durham, 21, who had claimed he was possessed by an “inner demon.”

Prosecutors said Mr Durham carried out the attacks during a 33-day period in 2014 while serving as a volunteer at the Upendo Children's Home in Juja.

Five of the abused children travelled last year from Kenya along with orphanage officials to testify at Mr Durham's trial.

Judge Russell ordered the courtroom in the state of Oklahoma cleared of spectators, including reporters, prior to the children's testimony.


US prosecutor Mark Yancey said on Monday he approved of the 40-year sentence, even though his team had asked Judge Russell to send Mr Durham to prison for life — the maximum penalty permitted in this case.

"The innocence of the child victims cannot be restored and their lives will never be the same," Mr Yancey said in a statement, adding, “It is our hope and prayer that his conviction and lengthy sentence will some day bring them some comfort and peace."

Mr Durham's sex assaults have cast suspicion on many foreign volunteers in Kenya, US prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum.

“There is a real perception among Upendo's local Kenyan community that more paedophiles lurk among the volunteers, especially the young male volunteers,” the memo stated.

A defence attorney said on Monday that Mr Durham intends to appeal the sentence.